The Gift of Laughter

LambThe holidays are a time of festive revelries—food, libations, gatherings with family and friends to celebrate the season and ring in the new year. For me, it's also a time that often stirs memories of the small family rituals that made it a special time when I was a kid. We're closing in on the Twelfth Day of Christmas, and that got me to thinking about the heirloom creche that always was set up in a prominent pace in the living room. My mother's family had brought it over from Switzerland, and the figures were quite old and fragile. (For those of you unfamiliar with the tradition, it's a model stable, with Mary, Joseph, the Christ Child, various farm animals, (at left is a surviving sheep) and the Three Kings. The Kings are placed some distance from the stable, and each day from Christmas to January 6th (the day the Kings are said to have arrived at the stable bearing gifts for the newborn King)  we kids were allowed to very carefully move the Kings closer and closer.

Three kingsNow one year, the Baby Jesus, a tiny, delicate figurine made of ivory-colored wax, went missing from his cradle. (No one ever fessed up!) This was highly upsetting to my younger brother, who was about five at the time. I'm not sure if he feared Armageddon was imminent, but clearly he was worried that Christmas would be forever ruined if the Three Kings arrived and no newborn Prince of Peace was to be found.

We looked everywhere. No baby. Finally, in a stroke of divine inspiration, my mother (a very talented artist)w ent to the kitchen, dug up an ivory candle, retreated to her art studio, and set to work with an X-acto knife. She emerged shortly with a beautifully carved little cherub (I shall refrain from making impertinent jokes about an "Immaculate Conception") and tradition was saved! For years afterward, the setting up of the creche was a source of much laughter and merriment as the story was told and retold to countless friends.

It's the sort of thing that reminds me of how the unexpected glitches and bloopers are what families remember and cherish, much more than the perfectly ordered events. Sharing laughter over the times when things go awry and one is forced to improvise is what I feel is one of the real gifts of the holiday season.

 

35 thoughts on “The Gift of Laughter”

  1. What a great solution your mom came up with, Cara/Andrea! And you’re right, it’s the glitches that are memorable, at least if in retrospect, they’re amusing. I love that little sheep!

    Reply
  2. What a great solution your mom came up with, Cara/Andrea! And you’re right, it’s the glitches that are memorable, at least if in retrospect, they’re amusing. I love that little sheep!

    Reply
  3. What a great solution your mom came up with, Cara/Andrea! And you’re right, it’s the glitches that are memorable, at least if in retrospect, they’re amusing. I love that little sheep!

    Reply
  4. What a great solution your mom came up with, Cara/Andrea! And you’re right, it’s the glitches that are memorable, at least if in retrospect, they’re amusing. I love that little sheep!

    Reply
  5. What a great solution your mom came up with, Cara/Andrea! And you’re right, it’s the glitches that are memorable, at least if in retrospect, they’re amusing. I love that little sheep!

    Reply
  6. A good thing your mother had talent!
    Why is it the baby always seems to disappear?
    The last one was a few weeks ago, when my aunt went shopping for a vintage Nativity scene. Jesus had been stolen from the one she wanted. The woman in the shop offered her a discount, but my aunt pointed out to her that without the baby, what was the point?

    Reply
  7. A good thing your mother had talent!
    Why is it the baby always seems to disappear?
    The last one was a few weeks ago, when my aunt went shopping for a vintage Nativity scene. Jesus had been stolen from the one she wanted. The woman in the shop offered her a discount, but my aunt pointed out to her that without the baby, what was the point?

    Reply
  8. A good thing your mother had talent!
    Why is it the baby always seems to disappear?
    The last one was a few weeks ago, when my aunt went shopping for a vintage Nativity scene. Jesus had been stolen from the one she wanted. The woman in the shop offered her a discount, but my aunt pointed out to her that without the baby, what was the point?

    Reply
  9. A good thing your mother had talent!
    Why is it the baby always seems to disappear?
    The last one was a few weeks ago, when my aunt went shopping for a vintage Nativity scene. Jesus had been stolen from the one she wanted. The woman in the shop offered her a discount, but my aunt pointed out to her that without the baby, what was the point?

    Reply
  10. A good thing your mother had talent!
    Why is it the baby always seems to disappear?
    The last one was a few weeks ago, when my aunt went shopping for a vintage Nativity scene. Jesus had been stolen from the one she wanted. The woman in the shop offered her a discount, but my aunt pointed out to her that without the baby, what was the point?

    Reply
  11. Yes, the crazy things that happen within families, and the scrambling to improvise is often VERY memorable. (Sometimes not as funny at the time as it is with hindsight.) But Life is all about the unexpected . . .and laughter is a good thing to have as one makes the trip!
    The sheep really does have wonderful personality doesn’t it? I love the clearly hand-carved legs. (Hmmm, I think a broken one could be repaired with a matchstick.)

    Reply
  12. Yes, the crazy things that happen within families, and the scrambling to improvise is often VERY memorable. (Sometimes not as funny at the time as it is with hindsight.) But Life is all about the unexpected . . .and laughter is a good thing to have as one makes the trip!
    The sheep really does have wonderful personality doesn’t it? I love the clearly hand-carved legs. (Hmmm, I think a broken one could be repaired with a matchstick.)

    Reply
  13. Yes, the crazy things that happen within families, and the scrambling to improvise is often VERY memorable. (Sometimes not as funny at the time as it is with hindsight.) But Life is all about the unexpected . . .and laughter is a good thing to have as one makes the trip!
    The sheep really does have wonderful personality doesn’t it? I love the clearly hand-carved legs. (Hmmm, I think a broken one could be repaired with a matchstick.)

    Reply
  14. Yes, the crazy things that happen within families, and the scrambling to improvise is often VERY memorable. (Sometimes not as funny at the time as it is with hindsight.) But Life is all about the unexpected . . .and laughter is a good thing to have as one makes the trip!
    The sheep really does have wonderful personality doesn’t it? I love the clearly hand-carved legs. (Hmmm, I think a broken one could be repaired with a matchstick.)

    Reply
  15. Yes, the crazy things that happen within families, and the scrambling to improvise is often VERY memorable. (Sometimes not as funny at the time as it is with hindsight.) But Life is all about the unexpected . . .and laughter is a good thing to have as one makes the trip!
    The sheep really does have wonderful personality doesn’t it? I love the clearly hand-carved legs. (Hmmm, I think a broken one could be repaired with a matchstick.)

    Reply
  16. The missing baby happened in our house, also. It was my father who was the artistic one and carved a new baby. I don’t know if we did not have an appropriate wax candle but, for whatever reason, he used part of an Ivory soap bar. Baby turned out well, but over the years he kept getting darker and darker. We used to laugh about that and pointed out that as it got darker, it probably looked more like Jesus than the original one.

    Reply
  17. The missing baby happened in our house, also. It was my father who was the artistic one and carved a new baby. I don’t know if we did not have an appropriate wax candle but, for whatever reason, he used part of an Ivory soap bar. Baby turned out well, but over the years he kept getting darker and darker. We used to laugh about that and pointed out that as it got darker, it probably looked more like Jesus than the original one.

    Reply
  18. The missing baby happened in our house, also. It was my father who was the artistic one and carved a new baby. I don’t know if we did not have an appropriate wax candle but, for whatever reason, he used part of an Ivory soap bar. Baby turned out well, but over the years he kept getting darker and darker. We used to laugh about that and pointed out that as it got darker, it probably looked more like Jesus than the original one.

    Reply
  19. The missing baby happened in our house, also. It was my father who was the artistic one and carved a new baby. I don’t know if we did not have an appropriate wax candle but, for whatever reason, he used part of an Ivory soap bar. Baby turned out well, but over the years he kept getting darker and darker. We used to laugh about that and pointed out that as it got darker, it probably looked more like Jesus than the original one.

    Reply
  20. The missing baby happened in our house, also. It was my father who was the artistic one and carved a new baby. I don’t know if we did not have an appropriate wax candle but, for whatever reason, he used part of an Ivory soap bar. Baby turned out well, but over the years he kept getting darker and darker. We used to laugh about that and pointed out that as it got darker, it probably looked more like Jesus than the original one.

    Reply

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